Shirley Ballas

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Shirley Ballas
Shirley Annette Rich

(1960-09-06) 6 September 1960 (age 62)
Wallasey, England
Occupation(s)Dancer, dance teacher and dance adjudicator
Known forStrictly Come Dancing
(m. 1980; div. 1984)

(m. 1985; div. 2007)
ChildrenMark Ballas

Shirley Annette Ballas (née Rich, formerly Stopford; born 6 September 1960)[1][2] is an English ballroom dancer, dance teacher, and dance adjudicator. She specialises in the International Latin division, where she won several championship titles which earned her the nickname The Queen of Latin.[3]

In 2017, Ballas was appointed head judge on the BBC TV show, Strictly Come Dancing following the departure of Len Goodman.

Life and dancing career[edit]

Ballas was born and raised in Wallasey, Cheshire (now Merseyside), England, with brother David and mother Audrey. The children's father left the family when Shirley was 2 years old.[2] She began dancing at age 7, and began performing competitively the following years.[2][4]

At 15, Ballas moved to North Yorkshire to partner British Ballroom Champion Nigel Tiffany, which she described as "a difficult time".[2] Two years later, she moved with Tiffany to London, where their partnership ended after dance teacher Nina Hunt convinced her to audition to partner with dancer Sammy Stopford.[2] The two married when Ballas was 18, with the relationship ending five years later.[2] As dance partners, their best result was winning Professional Latin at Blackpool Dance Festival in 1983. [5]

In 1985, she married Corky Ballas.[2] Together their best results were winning Professional Latin at Blackpool Dance Festival in 1995[6] and 1996[7] The pair moved to Houston, Texas to compete in the US. Their only child, professional ballroom dancer Mark Ballas, was born in 1986.[2] The couple later divorced in 2007.[citation needed]

Ballas stopped competing in dance competitions in 1996, becoming a dance coach and judge for ballroom and Latin American competitions.[8]

Television career[edit]

Dancing with the Stars[edit]

Ballas has appeared on Dancing with the Stars, giving master classes and commentating on the show.[9]

Strictly Come Dancing[edit]

On 9 May 2017, it was announced that Ballas would be joining the judging panel of Strictly Come Dancing on BBC One, replacing Len Goodman as head judge. She made her first appearance on the panel four months later - at the launch show of series 15 on 9 September that year. [10]


Year Title Role Notes
2017–present Strictly Come Dancing Head judge Series 15–present
2018 Loose Women Guest panelist
2018 Who Do You Think You Are? Participant
2019 Our School Summer Narrator
2020 The Great British Sewing Bee Participant
2020 The Wheel Celebrity expert
2021 Taskmaster Participant Winner
2021 Saturday Kitchen Participant


  1. ^ England & Wales, Civil Registration Birth Index, 1916-2005 — Name: Shirley A Rich; Mother's Maiden Surname: Standring; Date of Registration:Oct-Nov-Dec 1960; Registration district: Wallasey; Inferred County: Derbyshire; Volume Number: 10a; Page Number: 852
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h "Shirley's History: Setting the Record Straight". Shirley Ballas official site. Archived from the original on 13 April 2010.
  3. ^ "Welcome 'The Queen of Latin' Shirley Ballas, to our judging panel". BBC One. 9 May 2017. Archived from the original on 30 September 2017. Retrieved 30 September 2017.
  4. ^ Groome, Imogen (9 May 2017). "Who is new Strictly Come Dancing judge Shirley Ballas?". Metro. Retrieved 4 June 2017.
  5. ^ "".
  6. ^ "".
  7. ^ "".
  8. ^ "Strictly Come Dancing's new head judge - who is Shirley Ballas? | Press and Journal". Press and Journal. Retrieved 9 May 2017.
  9. ^ "Who is the new Strictly Come Dancing judge?". BBC News. 9 May 2017. Retrieved 9 May 2017.
  10. ^ Ballas, Shirley (9 May 2017). "Shirley Ballas on Twitter: "I am so excited and over the moon to announce that I will be joining the judging panel on @BBCstrictly!". Twitter. Retrieved 9 May 2017.

External links[edit]